Obama: Nation ‘heartbroken’ by Louisiana flood

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Barack Obama, Louisiana
US President Barack Obama delivers a speech in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Photo Date: 8/23/2016 (Photo Courtesy: MGN Online)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – The Latest on Louisiana Flooding (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

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President Barack Obama says the nation is “heartbroken” by the loss of life during recent flooding in Louisiana.

Obama is speaking in East Baton Rouge Parish as he tours flood damage in Louisiana.

Obama says people’s lives have been upended by the flooding. He notes that families have lost homes and possessions while local businesses have suffered.

The president says it’s not just about property damage. He says it’s also about “people’s roots.”

Obama says he wants Louisianans to know they’re not alone in recovering from the flood, even after the news cameras leave. He says the government will keep helping until people are back in their homes and their lives are rebuilt.

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12:50 p.m.

Pop star Britney Spears is giving the clothes off her back to raise money for the Red Cross to benefit victims of widespread flooding in her home state of Louisiana.

Spears, who is from Kentwood, Louisiana, tweeted out links Tuesday to a fundraising site offering $10 raffle tickets to win an outfit from her upcoming performance on Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards or win a trip to New York to see her at the show in person.

More than 115,000 people across south Louisiana have signed up for federal disaster assistance after the catastrophic flooding that began Aug. 12. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to the flooding.

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Visit www.crowdrise.com/britneyforlouisiana/ for more information.

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12:04 p.m.

President Barack Obama has arrived in Louisiana’s capital city where he’ll get a first-hand view of the damage from flooding that killed 13 people and forced thousands from their homes.

Obama was greeted Tuesday at Baton Rouge’s airport by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and the state’s U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and David Vitter.

The White House has released few details about Obama’s brief trip. He’s expected to tour one of the many neighborhoods in southern Louisiana devastated by the flooding caused by more than 20 inches of rain in some communities over a three-day period.

The flooding damaged more than 60,000 homes and forced thousands to seek temporary housing, according to estimates. More than 115,000 people across south Louisiana have signed up for federal disaster assistance.

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11:15 a.m.

More than 115,000 people across south Louisiana have signed up for federal disaster assistance after the catastrophic flooding.

State officials say $20 million in FEMA homeowner assistance had been distributed as of Tuesday.

A storm that began Aug. 12 dumped as much as 2 feet of rain in some areas over 48 hours. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to the flooding, and more than 60,000 homes were damaged by the storm. About 2,500 people remained in shelters Tuesday.

Federal and Louisiana authorities say more than 26,000 people have filed flood insurance claims for flooding damage.

The state is urging people to help those with damage muck out their homes. Volunteers can register at www.VolunteerLouisiana.gov.

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7:50 a.m.

Debris removal crews are out on the streets with 20 trucks in Baton Rouge and others in Livingston Parish to begin hauling away ruined furniture, drywall and other damaged possessions piled along streets after last week’s flooding.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/2bRBxeS) that East Baton Rouge Parish’s debris removal contractor, DRC Emergency Services, expects that it will take around 90 days to make three sweeps through neighborhoods to collect debris.

Their preliminary estimate is that the city-parish could have 325,000 to 400,000 cubic yards of debris and that they picked up 6,000 cubic yards by Monday afternoon.

DRC Vice President Mark Stafford estimated that his workers could pick up 20,000 cubic yards this week. FEMA is expected to reimburse the local officials 75 percent of the costs of debris pickup and other cleanup and rebuilding.

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7:40 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is opening additional disaster recovery centers in the Baton Rouge area.

New centers will open Tuesday in Gonzales, Baton Rouge and Zachary to help Louisiana flood survivors. The centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Representatives from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, FEMA, the Small Business Administration, volunteer groups and other agencies are at the center to answer questions about disaster assistance and low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses.

Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available for businesses of all sizes including landlords, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters.

So far, more than 106,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid.

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